Bayou Blues A Genie McQueen Novel - Sierra Dean
Hard earth sped by beneath my feet, but I barely felt it. The exhilaration of running made it seem as if I were flying, and there was nothing under me but wind and joy. The night air was alive with scents, and while the scenery blurred past me too fast to see, I was picking up the story of my environment with every inhale.
The pungent smell of algae, still warm from baking in the day’s sun, gave the air a dank, swampy odor, which made me feel like I was home. It also gave me a good indication of where the land ended and the water began.
There was nothing for me near the water’s edge. Most of the animals in the trees were fair game: small rodents, rabbits and other easy prey. Sometimes I’d find a real challenge and get to stalk a deer through the spongy bog. But where the moss and peat gave way to proper swamp and land became water, I was hesitant to get too close.
I was not the scariest thing out for blood during the full moon.
Once—and only once—I’d crossed paths with an alligator who mistook me for an easy meal. Werewolf versus alligator might sound like a kickass premise for a bad Syfy channel monster movie, but in my case it had been one of the worst nights of my life. If not for my heightened healing ability, I would still have some nasty scars to brag about.
But you should have seen the other guy.
That particular fight was not something I had any desire to repeat, no matter how badass the story made me sound. Just thinking about it made my heart beat a little faster. So, in spite of the water’s edge being an ideal place to catch easy prey unaware, it also put me at too great a risk. Instead I stuck to the trees, avoiding the swamp and the hiking trails as well. At this time of night the area was mostly clear of humans, but I didn’t like to take chances.
Boldness wasn’t my problem—I had it in spades these days—but I preferred to be smart rather than to tempt fate. Foolhardy was just another way to say stupid.
Leave it to me to still be a goody two-shoes while I was covered in fur. Some habits were hard to break no matter what form I took.
My wolf urged me forward, driving me on at a breakneck pace. I’d caught a whiff of rabbit, and now my singular mission was to sink my teeth into it. The frenzied patter of its heart sent out vibrations I could feel, singing a perfect ode to my hunger. Feed feed feed. My mouth watered, and I bared my teeth, though there wasn’t an animal in sight for me to menace. The wolf was desperate for the kill, and she and I were of one mind on the subject.
Once I’d learned to yield to the wolf within, I was able to turn off the magical part of my brain and simply be the wolf. Like most werewolves, I was thirteen when I first started shifting. The same age young hereditary witches came into their power, something most wolves didn’t have to consider. Unluckily for me, I’d inherited both gifts, leaving my magic and my wolf to collide in a disastrous and literally explosive way. That was how I came to spend my formative years getting to know the ins and outs of a swamp very well.
Now I was older, a little wiser, and definitely had a better handle on my magic.
I skidded to an abrupt stop, nails digging into the damp ground. Sniffing the air, I parsed the layers of scent, dismissing the bog water and night breeze until the only thing remaining was fear. Sweet, delicious fear. It smelled like dying flowers and fresh blood.
Movement low to the ground caught my attention, and I went rigid, ears upright, listening intently. There. I could practically feel the creature’s heartbeat in my mouth.
I crouched low, my whole body coiled like a spring as I moved closer inch by inch to where the nervous rabbit lay in wait, thinking it was hidden from me. One moment it was frozen, the next it bolted, and I went after it, pouncing before it had a chance to hide again. My teeth pierced its neck, and there was a brief glorious moment where I could taste every ounce of its fear, then it went limp.
The hunt was over.
I ate quickly, the